Could the Indigenous Peoples save the Seas?

In the past week, researchers from all over the world have gathered at the Arctic University of Norway, to discuss Indigenous Peoples’ rights to Marine Areas.

Researchers on Indigenous Peoples' Rights from all over the world were gathered in Tromsø in June. Foto: Trude Haugseth Moe
– This workshop is a wonderful opportunity for me: to come here to Tromsø and hear about other countries’ solutions to very complex questions, says Isabela Figueroa, from the University of Magdalena in Colombia.

She was one of the around 25 participants attending the international workshop on The Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Marine Areas, this week,  organised by the Jebsen Centre for the Law of the Sea (JCLOS) at The Arctic University of Norway.

Researchers from many corners of the world attended the workshop: the Philippines, UK, U.S.A., French Polynesia, Russia, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, among other countriess were represented.

Ignored area

A comprehensive study on the rights of Indigenous Peoples to marine areas has been a missing piece in indigenous research for long.

– The focus until now has been on land-based rights. But in fact, many indigenous peoples have a close relation to the sea and its resources, says professor Nigel Bankes from JCLOS, who is the conference organizer.

– For example, the Saami in Norway, the Aboriginals in Australia and the Inuits in Canada have all been coastal peoples, as well as inland communities, adds Bankes.

Learning from Indigenous Peoples

– In Colombia we have many different Indigenous Peoples, but our Government doesn’t recognize their rights. I think we have a lot to learn from Indigenous Peoples, especially when it comes to  their relationship to nature, says Dr. Isabel Figueroa.

Good discussions by the fireplace, during lunch. Foto: Trude Haugseth Moe

Increasing attention

Professor Lee Godden from the Melbourne Law School in Australia, has worked on Indigenous Rights for over 30 years. She says that Indigenous Peoples’ rights to Marine areas has been increasingly attracting the scholarly attention.

- Research on sea rights has been a hidden area, for a number of reasons. The attention on the topic has increased considerably over the past years, due to the environmental pressures to protect marine areas, in a sustainable way, says professor Godden.

Can the Indigenous Peoples save our Seas?

- Could Indigenous Peoples save our seas?

- They can help protecting, but we must be careful «locking» them into that. The goal here is to recognize their self-determination, and to make sure that the right to fish, for example, comes with the rights to govern and manage the natural world as well, says the Australian professor.



Page administrator: Trude Haugseth Moe
Last updated: 12.06.2018 15:01